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Facebook Likes Are The Cyber Equivalent Of Word Of Mouth

Having lots of likes on Facebook doesn’t necessarily translate to lots of sales and it doesn’t even mean that a lot of people have chosen your brand.

The role that social media plays in online marketing strategies has called the value of advertising on Facebook or Twitter into question lately as the Facebook IPO put a spotlight on that social network’s real earning capacity. After a couple of years of intensive social network marketing with 59% of internet marketers spending six hours or more on the site on a weekly basis1, many companies are reevaluating their advertising on social media and changing the way that they use these sites to advertise their products. The key to this change is the emerging perception that social media marketing is most useful as a means of raising brand awareness and the advertising that is sold by the sites is of limited value for generating sales conversions directly.

The very nature of Facebook dictates that advertising is going to face an uphill battle to generate sales from the site because users aren’t there to shop; they are on Facebook to socialize.

Businesses that understand this basic fact will adapt their methods and their goals for marketing on Facebook to suit the social nature of the site. General Motors recently put a stop on $10 million of Facebook advertising claiming that they didn’t affect sales significantly2, while at the same time maintaining their commitment to using their Facebook brand page to promote their brand more generally to Facebook’s huge audience. The smartest thing they, and anybody, can do now is to take advantage of Facebook’s free brand marketing service to keep their fans updated on the latest developments with their businesses and the products that they are selling. They are also putting their advertising budgets into creating content for Facebook that their fans will want to share with their friends and that will attract a lot of likes.

Having lots of likes on Facebook doesn’t necessarily translate to lots of sales and it doesn’t even mean that a lot of people have chosen your brand. There has been some anecdotal evidence that seems to indicate that customers that like your brand on Facebook are likely to spend more or be more engaged with your business. However, 58% of fans that like a brand page on Facebook do so because they are already customers of that business. This indicates that your existing customers want to engage with your brand on Facebook, while 41% of fans like your page to show their friends that they support you and your brand3.

Aside from the raw number of likes that you get, the Facebook Insights statistical display that the social networking site provides has much more realistic information, such as the “talking about this” and the “reach” numbers. When your fans see your posts in their newsfeeds, if they like them, or share them, then that appears in their friends’ feeds, exposing your post to a much wider audience. The obvious way to use Facebook is to try to leverage this viral reach to expose your brand to an ever-increasing audience, and to do this, you need to collect as many likes as possible while also supplying your followers with interesting, entertaining and engaging content that they will naturally want to share with their friends.

While all of this might not be good news for Facebook’s advertising sales it is great for businesses who can take advantage of the free marketing opportunity that Facebook’s brand pages provides. The whole point of social media sites is that they are places to interact with your friends and share the things that you like with them, and in this cyber world Facebook likes are the new word of mouth.

References:
1. 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Michael A Stelzner, Social Media Examiner

2.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304192704577406394017764460.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

3. 2011 Chadwick Martin Bailey Consumer Pulse

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